Robbie Henshaw rules out move to France but will weigh up options
Connacht centre Robbie Henshaw has no intentions of playing abroad for the foreseeable future, though he is not averse to moving to another Irish province when his contract expires.
The 22-year-old’s current deal with the Westerners runs out in June of next year and, as the hottest prospect in Irish rugby, what Henshaw chooses to do next is the source of great speculation.
Since bursting onto the international scene during last year’s Autumn Internationals, the Athlone native has gone from strength to strength in the Irish jersey.
Initially touted as a long-term replacement for Brian O’Driscoll, Henshaw has emerged as a first centre of some repute and will have undoubtedly piqued the interests of the money-laden clubs of England and France.
In spite of tweaking a hamstring just prior to the tournament, his performances in the World Cup, particularly in the final group game against France, amply demonstrated a growing maturity and physical presence.
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Speaking to Ivan Yates on Newstalk’s Breakfast show, Henshaw said that he believes contract negotiations with IRFU will be prolonged, as his representatives seek to hammer out a deal that is mutually agreeable.
He was quick to point out that, while he may ply his trade elsewhere in the years to come, he wishes to remain in Ireland for now.
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“I have to look at my options coming up towards Christmas and I can expect it to be an ongoing process,” he told Yates.
“At the moment I have to get my options on the table and then I’ll have to see what’s best for my career. I’m not making any decisions yet; I’m just waiting until all the options come in and then I’m going to assess what’s best for my career.
“I suppose in terms of the French teams in the Champions Cup, their players are obviously being paid a significant amount of money, but I suppose I’d love to play all my rugby in Ireland at the moment. I’m still quite young so I wouldn’t be thinking of leaving for a while. I think further down the line it could be an option, but for the moment I don’t think so.”
In recent times, Henshaw has been most linked with a move to Leinster, and Munster where it had previously been believed he could expedite his development and, indeed, receive a more lucrative contract.
However, as it stands, under Pat Lam Connacht are by far the best performing Irish province; they're top of the Guinness Pro 12 and have recorded two wins from two in the Challenge Cup, including a fine victory over Brive at the weekend. Their Irish counterparts, on the other hand, appear to be in a post World Cup stasis.
Furthermore, the Dublin outfit have a plethora of midfield options at their disposal, such as Ben Te’o, Noel Reid, Ian Madigan, Like Fitzgerald and another starlet, Garry Ringrose.
Henshaw stated that his main priority is Connacht’s continued success, but a move to the capital was not outside the realms of possibility. And, if he were to leave, his next destination would be largely decided by him.
“We haven’t talked with the IRFU, but I’d imagine it’ll be more my call than theirs because I’m out of contract. I suppose they could kind of guide you towards where they want you playing, so I’m not fully sure.
“I’m not ruling it (Leinster) out at the moment, but we’ll just see what happens. I’m 100 pc concentrated on Connacht for this year and my contract, so we’ll see what happens towards the end of the year, but I’m completely committed and focused. If options do arise, I’ll take a look at them,” he said.